Monday, February 11, 2008

the key



The key of my bicycle lock broke off. It was very strange, I had just finished doing some shopping and it was parked in front of a bike shop. I had it unlocked but my mind was wandering, it happens sometimes, I find myself standing besides the bike with the chain and the lock in my hands and I forget which way I am going with it, so instead of putting it away safe, I put it on again and before I knew it I had re-locked it. But what was worse.. this time, I felt the key going mushy and the half I was holding was in my hand while the other bit stayed stuck in the lock. I must have had it coming. It has been used a lot and it was two years old. When the superkid - sorry - green raven - saw it later at home (I did get home) he said "but this is copper!" It isn't, it is a sort of yellowy steel. But apparently soft enough to break off there and then.

I was lucky. If I had kept it unlocked and gone home as I had intended it would have come off later and I would not have been in front of a bicycle shop. As it happens the bicycle shop was closed and for a moment I was at a loss where to go and ask for help to get the lock open. Can you believe it.. I walked around the shopping mall to find a male shopkeeper to help me? I might have known better. The owner of the flower shop came to mind, because his hands are always dirty which lends his character an air of reliability and possible skills with tools. Although a shovel and a rake would be a bit out of place. Next to the bike shop is the drugstore and next to that the toystore. I opted for the last one. The lady at the counter said she'd call for someone, and inconspicuously pushed a little something stuck on the bottom of the counter shelf. That must be the bell they had installed after the postoffice, which is also in this block, was victim of an attempted robbery a few years ago. Another lady came from the back. I attempted to look harmless and not like a robber at all while quickly showing her my key and explaining myself, and she called a man. He was carrying two large pairs of pincers. Everything was going to be allright. Relieved, I asked the woman if they happened to sell bicycle locks, because if her husband was successfull, which he was bound to be with those pincers, I would need a new lock. They did! I followed the guy outside.

First, he walked the wrong way. Ok, he had a fifty fifty chance, he missed. So what? I called him back and after I pointed out my bike, he looked at the bit of steel sticking out the lock and asked me wich way to turn. Dammit man, it is a padlock, all padlocks turn the same way, don't they? I gestured. He sort of pointed at it and it stayed locked. He then concluded that this was not going to work. I guess he still wanted to make himself useful, so then he started to proceed to advice me to call somebody to get my bike (I live three blocks away and I have a car, idiot, why would I have to call someone? I just want my lock solved. Now.) to which I mutely shook my head, and to explain to me where to move my bike if it was going to be out here the whole night, because apparently I "had nobody" I could call. I sort of felt myself go numb and didn't look him in the face anymore, I just said "yes" a few times and wished he would go, which he then did.

I was alone. I had no-one.

I took another look at the lock. The key bit was all in, it only needed to turn. I didn't know if that guy had not tried or if it hadn't worked, but to me it hadn't looked as though he had even touched it. You would have thought he might have worked a little harder for the opportunity to sell me a whole new lock, but no. Apparently not. Maybe it is his wife who owns the store. I rummaged in my bag for a pin or a bit of wire to get a grip on the cylinder and turn. I found better.. a screwdriver. You can be refused access to airplanes for carrying a screwdriver. I wriggled it in the lock. It turned. It opened like a charm.

I did go back and buy that lock. After all, it wasn't that ladies fault. She'd had the same idea that I had.

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